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That They May Be One


Last month I had the wonderful privilege of speaking with Rick Fisher and my oldest son Mike at an interdenominational conference in Hilton Head on “Experiencing God through the Generations.” That event was special for several reasons. Of course, speaking alongside one of my children about passing your faith on to the next generation is always gratifying. Mike was the “hit” of the conference! But what also made that time special was the wide variety of Christian denominations that participated. Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Church of God, and various other denominations supported the event. A poignant moment for me was seeing the new Presbyterian minister meeting the new Baptist minister at a BMI event held at an Anglican church!

Of course, these groups did not stop being Presbyterian or Baptist. They still held to their cherished distinctives. Nevertheless, they drew together because of what they have in common. They realized that secularism and an apathy toward the Church is a growing issue. They also recognized that millennials are leaving the Church in droves. These churches have a shared concern that they not lose their young people. While we were in Hilton Head, the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes director took Mike into three schools to speak to students.

Something else I noticed while I was in Hilton Head was that the attendees were hungry to experience God. I was delighted when a group of Methodist ladies said the study Experiencing God greatly impacted their church and their personal walks with God. Though their various denominations have long-held creeds and doctrines that they embrace, these Christians recognized that they needed more than a creed; they needed a personal, vibrant, growing relationship with Christ. I was deeply encouraged to learn that our material in Experiencing God has helped Christians from a wide range of denominations truly experience God. It affirmed to me that the message Blackaby Ministries International is carrying around the world is one that is desperately needed today.

Finally, that conference showed me that God’s people long to hear from God’s word. Though Christian denominations believe in the Bible, many churches neglect to teach or practice biblical principles. I was encouraged to see Christians from numerous denominations sitting at tables with their Bibles open and their notepads full. They were genuinely hungry to hear from God. I was also pleased to see many pastors in attendance. When we put on this type of conference, the local pastors often believe they are too busy to attend. It was heartwarming to see the pastors sitting with their people, taking notes, and listening for a message from God.

I am reminded of what Jesus prayed on the night He was arrested and later crucified. He prayed: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us. That the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21). Jesus prayed that His disciples would be one. In fact, He prayed they would have the same level of unity He had with His Father. When they did, the world would know that Jesus had sent them. Sadly, Jesus’ disciples have often been far from unified. Too often they have emphasized their differences rather than what they have in common. I do not believe it is a sin for there to be different denominations. What is sinful is when various denominations do not act in Christ-like ways toward one another. Certainly churches and denominations should be wary of those who compromise or deny God’s word, but many of the issues that divide us are minor. Last week I saw that when Christ is lifted up and God’s word is carefully and truthfully explained and applied, true Christ followers from various denominations can rally together to expand God’s kingdom.

As the powers of darkness and evil continue to spread their tentacles across the land, I pray that Jesus’ disciples from every denomination will work together to glorify God.

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